Ulnar Nerve Release

What You Need to Know About Ulnar Nerve Release

Your funny bone is actually a nerve called the ulnar nerve. It is located near the skin’s surface and can easily become pinched, which stops blood flow to the nerve. As a result, you may feel tingling or numbness in your small or ring finger. In severe cases, it leads to muscle damage and weakness which may lead to functional impairment if left untreated.

The cubital tunnel houses the ulnar nerve, which runs behind the bony bump on the inside of your elbow. The ulnar nerve release decompresses the nerve if you experience continual numbness in your lower arm or hand.

Symptoms of Ulnar Nerve Entrapment

Symptoms of neuropathy in the ulnar nerve may include the following:

  • Tingling in your palm, pinky, or ring finger
  • Weakness in your hand
  • Elbow joint tenderness
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold

Ulnar Nerve Release Surgery

Dr. Lewis performs ulnar nerve release surgery to repair damaged tissue and release the trapped ulnar nerve. During the surgery, he clears space around the nerve to prevent a recurrence of the symptoms. This gives the joint room to move without compressing or trapping the nerve.
There are two ways to perform the surgery. You can remain awake under a regional anesthetic or remain asleep under general anesthesia throughout the procedure. Typically, the operation requires an hour but may run longer if complications arise.

If the ulnar nerve is hard to release, Dr. Lewis may need to reposition it to the front of the joint in a transposition procedure.

What to Expect After the Ulnar Nerve Release Procedure

The sutures used to close the incision dissolve within 10 to 14 days following the procedure. Keep the dressing clean and dry and cover it when you take a shower. Once the dressing is removed, you can shower without covering it. However, do not soak the incision point for at least five days. Avoid using ointment around the incision unless directed otherwise by Dr. Lewis.

Regaining full function of the arm could take up to three months, depending on how fast you heal and how complicated the surgery was. In the meantime, avoid lifting, pulling, or pushing any objects for up to six weeks.

If you require physical therapy, it typically begins six weeks after the ulnar nerve release surgery. You can return to work as soon as you feel comfortable if you are not required to use the impacted arm.

Typical Results

Your results may vary depending on your condition prior to the operation. Improvement may occur for up to 18 months following the ulnar nerve release.

Some patients report immediate relief of intermittent numbness while others may take weeks or months to gain the full benefit of the operation. A small percentage of those who receive the procedure may not recover normal sensation.

Contact the Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic to learn about ulnar nerve release surgery and other procedures for arm pain relief. Call us at (601) 366-1011 today to make an appointment. We’ll find a solution that works for you.